I have wrestled for months with this post. I have started it, deleted it, restarted it, given up on it, and started it again. I felt like I didn’t have a right to share it for a multitude of reasons – to preserve relationships, to keep from rocking the boat, among others. But, after some serious reflection (and billable therapist hours), I’ve come to the conclusion that this, just like every other major event that I’ve written about, will not be over until I have been able to get it out and get it over with. My mental health is suffering, and I think that holding in some of the betrayals that have wounded me and fundamentally changed me is unhealthy. In order to move past it, I first must dissect it, examine it, and then, hopefully, find closure.
This is my story. I can promise you that if you were to read something written by either of my two ex-best friends, I’d be the villain in their story. That’s fine. I don’t care. I understand that and I am not in any way claiming to be without fault. I’m going to tell you how things unfolded for me. If you want their story, you can ask them.
We will call the first friend, Friend A. Friend A and I met a few years back through our church. It became apparent very quickly that we had much in common and we bonded almost instantly. Our husbands became friends. We spent almost every free weekend with them, and I spent hours sending video chats to her when we couldn’t hang out in person. My kids called her Auntie. She was the kind of friend that I could share anything with without fear of judgment. She was a theology major and a youth pastor and I looked up to her for help understanding the parts of the church and the Bible that were troubling for me. We ended up forming our own small group so that we could foster faith in a way that we felt was less hypocritical than the organized church. We brought in new people and learned so much from them, which was life-changing for me. Those conversations helped me start to walk down the path that eventually led me to atheism. If I got nothing out of that friendship except for the gentle nudge down this path, then even the pain of losing the friendship is worth it because I found my way out of religion. She was supposed to be my forever friend. We got matching tattoos. We talked about living on the same property someday. She was my emergency contact. We lovingly joked about being “friend-married.” During the early years of our friendship, Friend A and her husband experienced some serious hardships. They dealt with infertility and miscarriages and the pain that comes along with that. Her husband had a tragic accident his second day on a new job and ended up out of work for months and with thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills. Friend A lost her job. She was incredibly depressed. We did everything that we could think of to help them. I drove her to medical appointments, we loaned them money, my husband got her husband more than one job. We did everything we could to try and help them when they needed us. But Friend A also had some personality traits that made socializing challenging sometimes. She was very clingy and insecure. She was jealous of other friendships that I had and her jealousy drove a huge wedge between Friend B and myself (more on that later). We would try and hang out with other couples and her social anxiety at sharing me as a friend would cause her to alienate everyone else in the room. Our other friends and some family would express concern about social gatherings and whether or not she would be there because she tended to make people uncomfortable. As things moved on after they finally had their perfect baby (not sarcasm, the boy is pretty great) and her husband got the job he wanted, life improved for them. The last few months of our relationship were really hard. She was constantly telling me all the ways that I let her down. She would tell me that I wasn't attentive enough or I didn't respond soon enough to something she said or something else and it got old. My husband was tired of hearing me stress about how much of a disappointment I was to her and watching me obsess over how to make it right. He saw how much time and energy I put into that friendship and he saw how I put it above everything, even my marriage a lot of the time. Eventually, things moved from wanting to hang out with her every free moment to looking for excuses to avoid our standing weekly date. The beginning of the end came in the fall. She and her husband had purchased a new home and were getting ready to move. Their closing date ended up getting moved back to the same weekend my husband was having his vasectomy. I had promised to help her move or at the very least to help her clean but my husband was miserable the entire weekend and she was pissed that I wouldn't leave my kids with him for a few hours to come help. Then, the Monday after his vasectomy he threw out his back and ended up spending the week in and out of the ER before being taken by ambulance for emergency back surgery in Seattle. This was traumatizing for me. My husband has never even really been sick let alone been hospitalized and unable to help himself. I thought that since she had been through the devastation of her husband's knee injury that she would be the person who showed up for me. I figured she would know what it's like to sit in fear waiting for a surgeon. I figured she'd give me extra grace considering I have two kids that I was raising while also trying to care for my injured husband. The end of it all came when she informed me how pissed off she was that I had missed her 30th birthday, which happened to be the day after my husband's surgery. We had barely gotten home from the hospital that afternoon and hadn't slept in a week. She was holding a grudge because I missed her party. I had really hoped that I was wrong but I got a very long detailed text message explaining that I was a shitty friend and that she was incredibly disappointed in me for missing such a special event in her life. She didn't check up on us after surgery, didn't offer anything, didn't check in to see how I was holding up… nothing. Seeing as I had enough shit on my plate, I told her I was done. If it had just been that one time, I wouldn’t have walked away. But that friendship that had been so lifegiving in the beginning had turned into something that was hurting me and my family.
Friend B. I'm not even sure where to start. Friend B and I have been friends since our girls were six months old. We have done life together in almost every sense of the word for the last 10 years. She has been my confidant and my partner in crime. She watched my son while I was still working and she was the one who was buying me groceries and picking up prescriptions so I could pack a bag and race over to the hospital to be my husband before his surgery. I never even contemplated a world where she and I weren't friends. Our girls are the same age, our boys are less than a year apart. Her husband works for mine. I don't even know how to sum up our friendship into something short enough that I won't lose you as a reader but long enough to do justice to the depth and breadth of our friendship. After Derek’s surgery, I was in a bad spot, especially in the wake of losing Friend A. A few weeks after returning from Seattle, Friend B came over and I confided some very sensitive information and asked her not to share it with her husband or anyone else. She chose to share it with her husband who then felt compelled to share with mine, as they are close friends. It led to an astronomical blowup in my marriage and my life in general. I was devastated when I learned of this betrayal especially because I had specifically asked her if she could handle keeping something to herself. Apparently, she couldn't. I was furious. I don't know that there is a stronger word to explain the emotions that I experienced the day all this shit came out. She told me she knew that I was upset but that she felt like she had done the right thing and that when I was done being angry she would be there ready to pick up and continue where we left off. That didn't end up being the case. After some heated text exchanges, we made the decision to meet in person for coffee. We talked, or more so I talked, and she listened as she did not have a whole lot to say to me. She talked about how my friendship with Friend A had hurt her for so many years and I apologized for putting that other friendship ahead of ours. I thought we were talking to smooth things over and move forward. I was ready to put behind me the fact that she had betrayed my trust. We hugged in the parking lot and she invited us to her brother's going away party the next day. I thought that we were on the right path after that meeting. But I was wrong. The next weekend, or the one after, I can't remember which, was her youngest's birthday party which we have always been invited to. We weren't invited and we weren't given any reason why. After that, she unfriended me on social media and has been absent since. This second one is the one that hurts the most. I never really knew what it meant to be ghosted by someone. I do now.
These aren't relationships that are ever going to be healed. The only healing that I'm going to get is in finally speaking what has been roiling around in my gut for months. It wasn't until I wrote about coming out as an atheist that I finally felt like I understood who I was and what I did (and did not) believe. It gave me the confidence to speak my truth. I understand now what I do and do not want in my life. I miss having friends, please don't get me wrong there, especially in this world that we're living in with quarantines and lockdowns. I'd love to have a mom friend to confide in about how fucking hard things have been. Luckily, I married the most patient and forgiving man on the planet and he has sat with me and loved me through all of this. Obviously, I can talk to him about these things but there's just something about having a girlfriend that's different. I think that if I seek out adult friendships after this, they will look very different. I don't think I'll ever trust someone the way that I trusted these two women. I'm grateful for those relationships even though they ended in an incredibly painful way. Friend B was there for me when my dad died, and I can't think of a time when I needed people more than that. Friend A was my sounding board and the person that I knew would understand anything that I was feeling without judgment. I miss those elements of friendship, but I will never bear my soul in its entirety to another human again.